Tigers release Conference hoops schedule

Tigers University of Memphis #1

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The American Athletic Conference has announced its 2016-17 Conference schedule, one that will see the Memphis Tigers, under the tutelage of legendary head coach Tubby Smith, play 18 games, nine against teams that had RPI’s of 100 or better a season ago.

Memphis, which went 19-15 last season, returns American Conference Rookie of the Year Dedric Lawson, who averaged 15.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, and brought in legendary head coach Tubby Smith to take the reins of the program.

The American schedule opens on Tuesday, December 27, when the Tigers host the SMU Mustangs at FedExForum. Last season SMU finished the season with a 25-5 overall record, and returns three of its top six scorers. The Mustangs are led by the return of 6-8 forward Ben Moore, who averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season. SMU is also one of four schools, including Memphis, Tulane, and UCF, to have a new coach for the season, as Tim Jankovich took over for Larry Brown who resigned from his position in the summer.

Three days later Memphis hosts South Carolina for its final non-conference game of the season, before opening the FedExForum doors for the third time in a ten-day span when the Tigers host the UConn Huskies. The game, which is a rematch of the 2016 American Athletic Conference Tournament Championship Game, will be played on Thursday, January 5. The Huskies return top scorer from last season Rodney Purvis, who averaged 12.8 points per game from a team that went 25-11 and ended its season in the NCAA Tournament.

The first conference road game comes on Sunday, January 8, when the Tigers head to the Crescent City for a battle against the Tulane Green Wave. Tulane will feature new head coach Mike Dunleavy Sr., and returns 6-4 senior guard Malik Morgan, who averaged 12.3 points per game for the Green Wave.

The schedule follows with three consecutive weeks of a mid-week road game and a weekend home contest.

The run of mid-week road games starts with a Wednesday, January 11 battle against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Last season Tulsa finished with a 20-12 overall record, falling to Michigan in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. The team returns just Pat Birt (12.0 points per game) out of its top eight scorers from last season.

USF, which went 8-25 last season comes to FedExForum on Saturday, January 14, and is led by guard Jahmal McMurray, who averaged 15.2 points per game last season, en route to being named to the American Conference All-Rookie Team.

The next week sees the Tigers travel to Houston on Thursday, January 19, and face off against a Cougar team that had a 22-10 record and returns two of its top three scorers including Rob Gray Jr. (16.0 ppg) and Damyean Dotson (13.9 ppg).

On Sunday, January 22, Memphis returns home to face off against UCF, a team that returns three of its top five scorers from last season for new head coach Johnny Dawkins. Among the key returners includes A.J. Davis who averaged 12.0 points per game, Matt Williams who averaged 8.1, and 7-6 center Tacko Fall who blocked a conference-high 70 shots a season ago.

The following weekend, Memphis travels to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to take on the Temple Owls on Wednesday, January 25. Last season the Owls earned a berth into the NCAA Tournament, narrowly falling in the opening round to Iowa. The team returns two key players from its 21-12 squad from last year, including Obi Enechionyia who averaged 11.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, and Josh Brown who scored 276 points while dishing out 161 assists.

On Saturday, January 28, the squad hosts the East Carolina Pirates, who had a 12-20 record last season, but returns two players who averaged double-digit scoring in B.J. Tyson (14.6 ppg) and Kentrell Barkley (10.1 ppg).

The second half of the schedule kicks off with back-to-back road games, as the Tigers take to the Sunshine State for a Thursday, February 2 contest at USF, and is followed by a Saturday, February 4 game at UCF.

After returning from Florida, the Tigers remain at home for the next week and a half, hosting Tulsa on Tuesday, February 7 and Temple on Sunday, February 12. The next road game for the Tigers comes on Thursday, February 16, when the squad travels to Hartford, Connecticut to take on the UConn Huskies.

A week later on Thursday, February 23, the Tigers travel to Cincinnati, Ohio, to face off against the Bearcats in the only meeting between the two programs during the regular season. Last season Cincinnati finished with a 22-11 record, falling in the NCAA Tournament. The squad returns three of its top five scorers from 2015-16, including leading scorer and American Conference First Team honoree Troy Caupain (13.0 ppg), 2015-16 American Conference Defensive Player of the Year Gary Clark (10.4 ppg), and Jacob Evans (8.4 ppg).

On Sunday, February 26 Memphis hosts Houston, before the Tigers have its senior-day game on Thursday, March 2 against Tulane. The season is bookended with a travel to Dallas, Texas, as Memphis begins and ends its season against the SMU Mustangs, the finale coming on Saturday, March 4.